A charcuterie board is one of the best things to serve at a social gathering. Often decked out with an assortment of cured meats and artisan cheeses, a charcuterie board is the ultimate savory spread. Not to mention, it also requires minimal preparations. However, a study may encourage you to cut back on how frequently you serve this type of food platter to your guests.
New research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that regularly eating processed meat can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The global study collected information from the diets and health outcomes of more than 134,000 people from 21 countries, of which spanned across five continents. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now).
Researchers followed the participants for nearly a decade and found that consumption of 150 grams or more of processed meat each week (or a little over 5 ounces) was linked to a 46% higher risk of heart disease. It was also associated with a 51% increased risk of death, by comparison to those who didn’t consume processed meat.
Processed meats include cured meats such as salami, pancetta, prosciutto, and Spanish chorizo. Bacon, hot dogs sausages, beef jerky, and deli meats are also examples of processed meats. Interestingly enough, the study found that moderate intake of unprocessed meats, such as beef, lamb, pork, and chicken that hasn’t been preserved through smoking, curing, or tainted with nitrates, each week had a neutral effect on health.
Participants were asked to record their dietary habits by answering food frequency questionnaires. Researchers also collected data on major cardiovascular events such as heart attack as well as mortality.
“Evidence of an association between meat intake and cardiovascular disease is inconsistent, “Romaina Iqbal, first author of the study and an associate professor at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan said in a statement.
“We, therefore, wanted to better understand the associations between intakes of unprocessed red meat, poultry, and processed meat with major cardiovascular disease events and mortality.”
In short, the study suggests that eating 250 grams (or about 9 ounces) of unprocessed meat each week isn’t harmful to overall health. However, even eating as little as five ounces of processed meat on a weekly basis can significantly increase your risk of heart disease and death.
The researchers note that further research is needed to better understand the relationship between meat consumption and health outcomes, however, limiting your intake of processed meat now isn’t a bad idea. Recently, a different study revealed a connection between eating cured meat and dementia.
To stay updated on the latest scientific findings, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.